Wednesdays are for jargon

I’m bringing back a feature from years ago. Every Wednesday I’ll unpack some development jargon for you.

HIV jargon

PEPFAR – President’s Emergency Plan For AIDS Relief, an anti-AIDS program started by George W. Bush.

Key Populations (KPs) – people who are at a higher risk for getting AIDS. PEPFAR considers these populations to be people who inject drugs, gay men and other men who have sex with men (MSM), transgender persons and sex workers. USAID reference on key populations | US State Department reference | e-learning courses on key populations

Most At Risk Populations (MARPs) – the UN term for key populations.

Concentrated Epidemic – UNAIDS has a very good definition of this one, “HIV prevalence is high enough in one or more sub-populations, such as men who have sex with men, injecting drug users, or sex workers and their clients to maintain the epidemic in that sub-population, but the virus is not circulating in the general population.” UNAIDS explanation of epidemic scenarios


More Pie: Some Thinking on World AIDS Day

Pumppie cake

(Two delicious pies baked into a cake. We should think big.)

The most common complaint about World AIDS Day goes like this – HIV already gets the lion’s share of global health funding and attention. Why don’t we pay attention to diarrhea/pneumonia/NTDs/indoor air pollution for a change? Ten years ago, I would have agreed with that argument. Diarrhea and pneumonia and NTDs and indoor air pollution do need more funding and more attention. It’s infuriating that they don’t get it.

But here’s what I have figured out in the last decade: we can have more pie. Differently put, global health is not a zero-sum game. We can increase the funding that goes to it. In the last ten years, we have. The Global Fund and the Gates Foundation have radically increased the resources available to global health. The private sector has started funding global health, and government donors have increased their commitments.

There is nothing wrong with so much attention going to AIDS. HIV gets exactly as much attention as it deserves. It’s the second most terrifying pandemic of our time. (I really think first place belongs to MDR TB.) About two million people a year die from AIDS, and there are about 33 million people currently infected with HIV. It is devastating to communities, families, and nations. It is worthy of every red ribbon, activist, and dollar of funding it receives.

What is wrong is that other health problems don’t get as much attention. And that’s not a problem we solve by ignoring HIV. It’s a problem we solve by bringing more attention to the rest of the world’s serious health problems. We should learn from the publicity for HIV, not complain about it. What we need is to get that kind of attention for everything that deserves it.

I wanted to post this on World AIDS day, but ended up writing for two other blogs instead. (End the Neglect and UN Dispatch, both worth reading, I like to believe.)

What to read for insight

I’ve got a lot of blogs in my RSS reader. 166, to be precise. And I treat it like an email inbox, and I keep up with it. They’re smart blogs, and I love the feeling of learning new stuff all the time. Sometimes, though, I want to step out of the familiar blog comfort zone. You need a little randomness to generate new ideas. You need synergy. This is what I read to find that:

Trackernews – It’s still in beta, but I am already impressed. It is a human-curated news and information site specifically designed to help readers make new connections.

Silobreaker – Another aggregator site designed to inspire insight. It’s intended to break down the walls between different disciplines and broaden your perspective. I really like the Network search function.

Worldchanging – Styled as an online magazine, it features articles and blog posts on a range of topics, withing a general theme of achieving positive change. It’s a combination of aggregated content from other places and original writing.

ChangeThis – ChangeThis is made up of manifestos, mostly related to marketing and business. All original content.

PlusNews – HIV-related news from all over the world. Original content, written by journalists for PlusNews. HIV/AIDS is a multi-faceted problem, with a multitude of causes and responses. In many ways, it’s a microcosm of most of the challenges facing the world. Think about HIV and you’re thinking about everything.

Edited to add: Commenters Ryan and Peter have added some excellent sources. Take a look.

(photo credit: StrangrThanCandy)
Chosen because I really had no idea what to illustrate this entry with, and it’s a cool looking picture. I think it looks kind of like a world map.

Depo Provera is not infected with HIV

The poor public affairs officer must be really frustrated to give interviews on a subject this ridiculous. There’s a rumor spreading in Zambia that the USAID-distributed Depo Provera (injectable contraceptive) is infected with the HIV virus. A rumor being promulgated by the Minister of Health, Brian Chituwo. There is a BBC article from 2006 that says he’s been moved into the Ministry of Education, but apparently he wasn’t.

I am not really sure what lesson to learn from this. Well, one maybe. In a well-educated society with access to information, these kinds of rumors are not able to take flight.

Taxis and word of mouth

This article about using taxi drivers as brand ambassadors says nothing about taxi drivers disclosing that they are paid to talk about this website. I suspect this will end very badly.

Ethical nuances tend to come on the heels of, not right along with, new business models, but in the case of word of mouth advertising, it’s been pretty clearly established that you need to disclose you’re being paid. This kind of thing is cutting edge only to people who haven’t been paying attention.

Using cab drivers as information sources is old news. Every journalist in the world has used his airport cabbie as a source if he can’t find another one, and the development world has been working with cab drivers to spread health information. There’s a nice example from PSI here.